Hobbes, Ghosts, and Hamlet Notes for October 2

Main points

We read chapters 45 and 47 of Hobbes for two reasons:

  1. They show the results he hoped his philosophical theory of perception would achieve.
  2. They illustrate the split between intellectual Protestants and Catholics over matters of spiritualism.

The second point led us into Hamlet. An Elizabethan audience would have recognized the ghost as posing a difficult challenge for Hamlet. Is he being visited by his father or is the devil trying to capture his (and others’) souls by appearing as his father? He had to figure that out before he could know what to do. But that isn’t at all an easy thing to do.

I said that this inclines me against interpretations of the play that treat Hamlet as simply crazy or as hopelessly indecisive. I also praised the Branagh version, the one we saw, for bringing out this theme.

The discussion

Someone spent too much time typing a handout at the expense of thinking about how to use it.

We fired that guy, but not until after he finished the job by adding another quotation from King James’s Daemonologie, correcting a few spelling errors, defining some archaic terms, and giving the correct act, scene, and line references to the bits quoted from the play.

In other words …

The bald spots in our discussion were my fault. Apologies all around.

The handout has been updated in worthwhile ways.

This page was written by Michael Green for The Image of God, ID-1, Fall 2007. It was posted October 3, 2007.
The Image of God